18 August 2011

As I study for oral exams, I'm realizing that I really enjoy listening to Cowell's piano music. It's basically like listening to particular kinds of carillon repertoire. Muscular, masculine music, played mostly with fists (i.e. clusters), eliciting a riot of overtones from the instrument. Ha.

25 March 2011


Yesterday I drove the whole two blocks to In-N-Out to order a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. Today I drove from Claremont to Pasadena to catch up with a friend, and then went to the McDonald's drive-in right in front of my hotel just to order fries. Did I mention that I never get fast food, and that this fast food was within walking distance? It's just too amusing to pretend to embrace the car lifestyle here. And you can't help but be amused by the sign for the Shamrock Shake still sticking out of the Astroturf as you idle.

14 January 2011

novelty never ends

Afraid I was running out of new streets to jog, I took to busy Sacramento to the strains of Béla Fleck's Throw Down Your Heart on my iPod. To my wonder, the front gardens were lush and the houses were warm, inviting, and charming in the pale pink evening light. White wooden accents turned warm shades of peach, and boarded-up driveways beckoned like doorways into other worlds. I continued to the historic plaque marking the Ohlone Trail, read up a bit on my local history, and turned back to discover a house near North Berkeley BART with great rustic fences built using the redwoods in its front yard as pillars. Strings of multicolored Christmas lights extended fancifully into one of the tree's upper reaches, and outside a hatchback van sported a life-sized wooden grizzly bear sticking out of the trunk.

I continued past Phoenix Pastifico (note to self: eat there) to find myself on the strangely otherworldly Bonar Street. Under an undifferentiated darkening blue dome, the quiet world of one-story houses seemed in the middle of nowhere, a gentler, differentiated version of D.J. Waldie's Holy Land. Knowing that the out-of-sight skyscrapers of San Francisco rose just a dozen miles away made the street miraculous; a similarly charming neighborhood actually in the middle of nowhere (I thought of Waverly, PA with a shudder) would have seemed desolate. Past warmly lit living rooms of charmingly narrow Second Empire homes and a California Mission bell marker replica I'd never noticed in the entryway of a house at McGee and Parker, and I was home.